How Do I Make My Marriage Work When Finances are Not Working?


Dear Dr. Buckingham,

I need help and fast, I been married 2 years and financially my husband and I are unstable He has an ex wife and a child with her. I have two from a previous relationship and we have a child together. A few years ago I picked up and moved so we could be closer to his daughter. Things didn’t work out so we moved back to my hometown. Before I met my husband I was doing great with my finance but now its like we can’t get the bills paid. He works two jobs and we still can’t afford too pay our bills. We just moved out of my parents’ house because I don’t want to stay with anyone else. I am often depressed. I don’t want to be bothered with him. He loves me and I know it but love can’t keep food on the table.

I had an offer to go back to work, but he wants me to wait until our son gets in school. Also, I have put off school for the last 3 years. Either he is working and not making enough or he is not working. Sometimes I ask him to complete applications and he never does. I am tired already. I am really frustrated because we are two months behind on our mortgage and I cannot get a loan because I helped his mother pay her cable bill. Now, I have that on my credit. Also, I cosigned a loan for him. Things are not great and I feel like we should do something different cause this isn’t working. How Do I Make My Marriage Work When Finances are Not Working?


Last dollar

Ask Dr. Buckingham

Dear Last Dollar,

Given that the top three reasons for divorce include infidelity, money problems and ineffective communication, I highly recommend that you and your husband seek financial guidance and counseling. Churches and certain non-for profit organizations can assist with both.

Seeking financial guidance can help with your finances and professional counseling can help you manage feelings of depression. Seeking help is important because you all might need to receive some education about money and crisis management. Without knowing his and your spending habits, it is difficult to comment about how you should move forward from a financial perspective. However, in talking with hundreds of couples over the years, I have learned that many couples do not manage their money well. Believe it or not, I have counseled couples who make over $500K annually and were still in financial trouble. I mention this to say that a lack of money is not always the problem.

I agree with your sentiment that love can’t keep food on the table. However, I do believe that love can position individuals to work together in order to keep food on the table. You have a right to be tired and I assume that your husband is as well. You stated that he has worked two jobs and you all still cannot pay the bills. I realize that it is difficult to remain positive and hopeful when basic needs (shelter, food, etc.) are not met, but you all cannot afford to allow distressful emotions to further divide the household.

You can make your marriage work when finances are not working by sitting down with your husband and organizing the finances. Also, you all need to discuss possible resources. While living with your parents was not ideal it was probably the best option available. Being resourceful is the best way to navigate through financial struggles.

There are a lot of online financial tools that allow you to analyze your income and expenses. Also, there are a wealth of free food pantries and non-profit organizations that offer donations and contributions. Additionally, thrift shops offer clothing at a discounted price. As you work to improve your financial situation, do not allow your pride to prevent you from thriving. Reflecting on your past financial stability is not going to help you move forward.

In my opinion inefficient finances destroys marriages because individuals do not truly understand the meaning of their marriage vows: “To have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth”.

You and your husband made a commitment to marriage so I recommend that you all make a commitment to managing your financial instability. I would argue that your husband is struggling with pride issues and is probably depressed as well. Also, I would argue that marriages do not fail because of finances, but because people do not know how to cope with or manage the emotional distress that stems from insufficient finances. Ego and insecurity issues surface when individuals are faced with hard times.

Instead of focusing on what is wrong in your marriage from a financial perspective, focus on what resources are available and use them on your road to financial recovery.

Best regards,

Dr. Buckingham

If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to askdrbuckingham@gmail.com

Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.

About the author

Dwayne Buckingham wrote 189 articles on this blog.

Dr. Dwayne L. Buckingham, author of Qualified, yet Single: Why Good Men Remain Single and Unconditional Love: What Every Woman and Man Desires in a Relationship, is a highly acclaimed international clinical psychotherapist, life coach, relationship and resiliency expert, motivational speaker and corporate consultant. He is also the President and Chief Executive Officer of R.E.A.L. Horizons Consulting Service, located in Silver Spring, Maryland. To learn more about Dr. Dwayne L. Buckingham visit his website at www.DrBuckingham.com.

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